With new Aston Villa midfielder Carlos Sanchez counting Claude Makelele as his idol, Joe Cole has backed his teammate to emulate the former Chelsea star.
Nicknamed “The Rock”, due to his solidity in the holding role, the 28-year-old Colombian earned comparisons to the Blues legend during his six seasons spent with Ligue 1’s Valenciennes, before moving to Elche last August.
Making the switch from Spain to Villa last week, Sanchez spoke of his admiration for Makelele at his unveiling press conference and Cole, who appeared alongside the Frenchman for five seasons at Stamford Bridge, believes the £4.7 million signing has chosen the perfect role model.
‘Makelele was the Governor - the best,’ he told the club’s official website.
‘He has just started out in management this year - I spoke to him in the summer.
‘He's a great man and what a player he was.
‘If Carlos can produce the kind of performances Makelele did, it will be fantastic news for us as a team and as a club.
‘People often look at the creators and the goalscorers but we loved Makelele. His role was vital in the team.
‘He got the credit from within the camp and within the game. The players who played with him will tell you just how good he was and how important he was for our success. We loved him.
‘He was sitting in there for us as our rock. I am thrilled to hear that Carlos counts him as his hero.
‘Carlos is clearly a specialist in that defensive midfield position. We will certainly have some player on our hands if Carlos plays half as well as Makelele did.
‘He has some hero to look up to there.’
Impressing in four of Colombia’s five World Cup matches this summer, Cole has still to train with Sanchez but is all too aware of the rave reviews he’s been earning.
‘I have spoken to him a little bit. I haven't trained with him yet because when he came in on Monday, I was playing an U21 game,’ he said.
‘But I've got really good reviews. The boys are really impressed with him.
‘He comes with good credentials. He comes off the back of a good World Cup too. He will be an important player for us.’
Both Sanchez and Cole could get the chance to line up alongside one another this weekend, with Paul Lambert revealing that the pair will be in the squad for the home opener against Newcastle United.
Can Sanchez emulate Makelele's Premier League performances?